State of Affairs
By Kari Croop,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Complicated D.C. drama has a fierce but flawed heroine.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Ongoing plot involves treason/treachery and ever-changing threats to national security -- but also a search for justice and truth. Teamwork is critical to neutralizing threats and saving lives.
Positive Role Models
Main character is strong, assertive, and smart but struggles with personal demons, acting out via binge drinking and sex with random partners. She reports to a female commander in chief who is African-American, defying conventional stereotypes. Supporting cast is notably diverse.
Violence & Scariness
Visuals include explosions, shootings, and some blood. The most graphic acts (including torture and beheadings) are strongly implied but not shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual innuendo; simulated sex with kissing, lingerie, and some bare skin but no sensitive parts shown.
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Audible words include "ass," "hell," "horny," "vagina," and the like.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social/binge drinking; cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents needs to know that State of Affairs centers on a type-A CIA analyst who prepares a daily report of the nation's most pressing national security issues and presents it to the president. Dealing with terrorism, torture, and other forms of violence is part of her job, so scenes can be intense but stop short of showing the most graphic acts, such as beheadings. The main character also regularly turns to alcohol and casual sex to avoid dealing with personal problems, and sex is suggested with lingerie and the like but is never explicit. You'll hear gateway terms such as "ass" and "hell," too, along with sexually charged talk about being "horny" and so on.
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State of Affairs
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What's the Story?
Three years after her fiancé -- sitting president Constance Payton's (Alfre Woodard) son -- died in a terrorist attack, top CIA analyst Charleston "Charlie" Tucker (Katherine Heigl) is still looking for the killers who carried it out. But Charlie and her team are also tasked with preparing the President's daily briefing, or PDB, a rotating roster of the most pressing security issues facing the nation, which means Charlie's STATE OF AFFAIRS is constantly changing.
Is It Any Good?
Primetime hits such as Scandal, The Good Wife, and Homeland are proof that political thrillers built around strong female leads can be popular with both viewers and critics, breaking new ground along the way for women in television. But, although the similarly themed State of Affairs is clearly aiming for the A-list with stars such as Heigl and Woodard, it feels like it's a little late to the party -- and that it got lost along the way.
The cons include a plot that vacillates among the convoluted, the confusing, and the flat-out improbable, with a lead actress who, although likable, isn't always believable as a high-level CIA operative at the top of her game. As far as pros go, though, the show shoves aside outdated boundaries by making the U.S. president not only a woman but a woman of color, broadening the standard definition of "executive power" and rolling out a refreshing new role model.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about State of Affairs' premise and how realistically it portrays the lives of women in power. What does it get right -- and wrong? Does the fact that the show's fictional president is a woman (and a woman of color) change the feel of the White House?
How does State of Affairs compare to other dramas about high-powered women in leadership roles (Scandal, Madam Secretary, Homeland)? Does it do anything differently, and, if so, does it work?
How does State of Affairs' central heroine rate as a role model, and how heavily do her flaws factor in?
- Premiere date: November 17, 2014
- Cast: Katherine Heigl, Alfre Woodard, James Remar
- Network: NBC
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: August 29, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Watch
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